Behind the dreaded attendance policies

Christopher Jennings, News Anchor

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This may come as a surprise to the majority of the student body at UNF, but it turns out that mandatory attendance isn’t a policy that is imposed on the administration level–but it’s at the discretion of the individual professor. 

Ospreys are familiar with the policy of having to show face on the first day of class in order to prevent being dropped from the course–that we know. It’s possible students don’t know that it’s only the responsibility of the individual professor to come up with an attendance policy.

In an interview with the UNF Associate Provost Daniel C. Moon, he stated that there is no mandatory attendance policy forced on the students by administration, but professors will create an attendance policy that supports their overall teaching style. 

Attendance policies can vary among professors — some requiring students to show up all semester but gift students at least 2 to 3 unexcused absences; whereas other professors will only allow one unexcused absence. You can have professors on complete opposite ends of the spectrum: either no unexcused absences are allowed, or checking attendance is the least of their responsibilities/concerns. Moon says a professor’s specific attendance policy could have a great deal on the way their course is structured. 

“For some professors, if the style is mostly lecture and the material is available through recording or through watching videos or some other source, then attendance isn’t really as critical,” Moon said. He continued to say that if the class is structured in a way where face-to-face interaction between students and their instructor is essential, “that’s typically when you find attendance policy a bit more strict.” 

Associate Professor of Communication Studies Dr. Margaret Stewart is among the professors who gives their students the freedom to miss two classes without an excuse. Class participation is a factor integrated in many of Stewart’s courses, and she uses class participation to maximize comprehension of the course material — because of this style of teaching, however, she couldn’t be too lenient with her attendance policy, thus requiring students to show up to class for the majority of the semester. 

“For me, the reason I build in a class participation component is because otherwise it would limit me to simply lecturing at the front of the room and hoping people attended,” Stewart said.“And, in order for me to foster and facilitate an interactive learning environment, I need students to be there and be participating. I require an attendance policy and I have participation points assigned that encompass that, because I want to be able to create an interactive learning experience for my students.” 

Stewart’s attendance policy of two unexcused absences isn’t all about an interactive learning environment or ensuring class participation–she understands students have a life outside of school. 

“I think it’s important for students to have a little bit of flexibility to handle everyday life,” Stewart said. “[students] can miss their class responsibilities without the fear of penalty.”

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